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Domestic Life in Scotland, 1488 - 1688
Lecture II -
The Wealth of the Church: A Pre-Reformation Manse


WHATEVER line of interest may lead one to the study of Scotland in the sixteenth century, one cannot go far without becoming conscious of a deep and irresistible current surging through the national life of the time. Everywhere there is transition, progress, change. Whatever new facts research may reveal, in this department or in that, the interest of these as isolated facts soon gives place to a sense of their significance as reflecting the general movement of the age. So it is with the study of domestic furnishing. As we review the documentary records of house plenishings in the sixteenth century we are brought face to face with two symptoms of the time too conspicuous to be passed by. The first of these is the wealth of the Church, a material prosperity strikingly disproportionate to the general economic condition of the country. The second is the appearance of the middle class, and its rapid advance in wealth and social importance. These two phenomena cannot strictly be separated, or treated as if they had no relation to each other. As a matter of fact the Church lost her economic leadership just because civilisation became gradually too complex for her control, and because the trades and crafts which had grown up under her patronage became so highly specialised as to call for skilled and trained men to conduct and manage them; and with her economic leadership the Church lost, of course, a large part of her hold on the people. And, on the other hand, the revolt against the corruptions and exactions of the Church proved a powerful factor in educating the people, in developing their capacity for independent judgment, and in fitting them for the political influence which they were destined to exercise. Still, it will be convenient to treat these two distinctive features of the life of the time separately, and in the present lecture we shall limit ourselves to the wealth of the Church as one of the elements which led up to the Reformation. With the ecclesiastical controversies of the time we need not concern ourselves. Even the historical results of the Reformation—the abolition of the papal power in Scotland and the establishment of the reformed religion—interest us here only in some of their consequences. But the Reformation movement has this signal importance for us, that it was the crisis in which the modern spirit sought for a decisive victory in its conflict with medievalism; and that it provided Scotland with a sharp issue on which every man was able to take a side, and so helped to bring the country to a knowledge of its own character and its own destiny.

Let us beware, however, of thinking of the Reformation as a local movement, the product of merely local conditions. Both the decay within the Church, and the spirit of criticism and revolt without, were largely due to the breaking up of old standards of thought and of conduct, and to the emancipation from accustomed restraints, which followed, all over Europe, from the Renaissance. In every country, and in every department of life, submission to authority gave place to the exercise of individual judgment. Long acknowledged codes were challenged, and as their control weakened there was an inevitable tendency to revert to an undisciplined paganism.

Within the borders of the Church itself these changes soon began to bear bitter fruit. In the intoxicating atmosphere of humanism spirituality began to wither and to lose its vital and inspiring force. The beauty of holiness and the rapture of self-consecration were fading visions that seemed more and more spectral and delusive. The call of the old austere ideals of poverty and self-mortification now sounded faint and far away—the dying echo of a crazy enthusiasm. While there were many in the Church who, like Bishop Elphinstone in Scotland, upheld the highest traditions of their office, there were many more who preferred to work out their careers as ambitious nobles and scheming men of the world. In an age when every institution, however venerable, was subjected to searching criticism, it was inevitable that the revolt against a degenerate Church, whose sway had been absolute and was now felt oppressive, should everywhere be a characteristic consequence of the Renaissance. Elsewhere, however, that conflict might be subsidiary to other manifestations of the new spirit—to a vigorous outburst of artistic or literary activity, or to an effort for constitutional liberty. In Scotland it was the problem on which all the national energies were brought to a focus. There the ecclesiastical abuses were not less flagrant than elsewhere; and there the opulence of the Church was thrown into sharp relief against the poverty of the people.

Catholic writers, while admitting that there was much that was reprehensible in the lives of the clergy, maintain that the attack on the Church was largely inspired by the cupidity of the nobles, who had remained impoverished since the War of Independence; and it cannot be disputed that there is much historical evidence of the existence of such sordid motives. But from this point of view, no less than from the opposite one, the wealth of the Church is admitted to be an element of crucial importance in accounting for the course of Scottish history in the sixteenth century. It is said that practically half the wealth of the country was in the hands of the Church. We have already seen how most of the rich furnishings and luxuries sent into Scotland by Andrew Halyburton were consigned to ecclesiastics. And Cardinal Beatoun, we are told, kept such a house "as was never holden in Scotland under a King." But general statements and exceptional instances do not give us a picture of the wealth of the Church as it struck the eye of contemporary observers. Little or nothing has been written as to the actual conditions of the home life of the ordinary clergy. To fill this gap and to give you a glimpse of the interior of a Pre-Reformation manse and its furnishings, I propose to describe the home of a Scottish priest who drew his revenues from a thinly populated district in Tweedside and who was one of the Canons of Glasgow Cathedral.

In February of the year 1542 there died, at his house in Glasgow, Maister Adam Colquhoun, "persone of Stobo." The manse of Stobo stood at the head of the Drygate of Glasgow, and was one of the many houses in that quarter occupied by the Cathedral clergy. The Chapter of Glasgow consisted of thirty-two canonrics or prebends, and of these the canonry of Stobo was not the least desirable. The benefice of Stobo brought in an income of two thousand merks a year, and that of Broughton, which went with it, another thousand merks, representing in all two thousand pounds of the money of the realm at that date. John Major, writing of Glasgow in Colquhoun's time, says, "the Church possesses prebends many and fat; but in Scotland such revenues are enjoyed in absentia just as they would be in presentia," a custom which he deplores. The cure of souls in Stobo was in the hands of a rural vicar, John Colquhoun, probably a relative of Maister Adam. It was expected of the prebendary, however, that he should pay periodical visits in order to superintend his rural charge. During such absences he was represented in the Chapter by a Vicar of Stalls, to whom he had to make an annual payment of twelve merks a year, along with a cope and surplice. There was also an ordinance, dating from 1401, which "considering the great and detestable deficiency of the ornaments" from which the Cathedral had suffered in its divine services, levied a tax on the various prebendaries for copes, chasubles, dalmatics, tunics and other ornaments. For this purpose the Parson of Stobo had to contribute five pounds. These, however, with perhaps a small salary to his vicar, seem to have been the only charges against his income.

As to Maister Adam Colquhoun himself, he was a younger son of Patrick Colquhoun of Glens, who owned property in the Stable Green at the western end of the Cathedral. A few scattered references to him in early records suggest that he may have been somewhat highhanded and given to contention. The Glasgow Diocesan Registers record a dispute between him, when as a younger man he was Rector of Biggar, and the neighbouring Rector of Skirling on a question of tithes; and after he had been promoted to be Rector of Govan, a Glasgow canonry, he was charged with taking possession of part of the Rector of Renfrew's manse during his absence. One other fact may be mentioned which has some interest. He inherited a house in Stable Green which he sold to Matthew Stewart, second Earl of Lennox, and it was in this house that Darnley, years afterwards, lay sick on the memorable occasion when Queen Mary visited him and "taried certen daies withe him" two or three weeks before his murder.

The manse of Stobo, whose furnishings we are to describe, is said to have been a tall, tower-like house, very solidly built of stone. It was entered by a winding stone stair in an outside tower pierced by narrow slits which admitted but little light, and the doors of the apartments, as was usual at that time, opened direct from the stair, or from other rooms, there being no passages. There were spacious fireplaces with carved lintels in the hall and in the parson's own chamber, and near the fireplaces there were little aumries let into the walls. The interiors were gloomy and prison-like, for the light entered by small windows through walls which were three feet thick. At the back of the house, facing south, there were wooden galleries which pleasantly overlooked the garden and orchard running down to the burn, and enabled the occupants to take advantage of such sunlight and fresh air as the climate and season afforded. When his last "seiknes" was upon him, the household included, besides the dying man, his two natural sons, James and Adam, and their mother, Jane Boyd, who no doubt tended him in his hour of extremity. But there was also living a nephew, Peter Colquhoun, described as "a citinar of Glasgow," who, after his uncle's death, claimed to be the legal heir. This nephew charged the two natural sons and their mother, along with James Houston, sub-dean of Glasgow, and Master Archibald Craufurd, parson of Eaglesham, whose manse was next door, with "wrangously intromitting" with the goods of the late Master Adam during his illness and after his death ; and moved the Lords of Council to cause the defenders to deliver up the "gudis of airschip or the avail thereof" as "now pertening to the said Peter be resoun of airschip throw deceis of his umquhile eme"—or late uncle. What were the pleas advanced by the parties to this lawsuit, we are not told. But if Peter was trusting to the sons of a celibate priest having no legal status he was leaning on a broken reed. For in the Register of the Privy Seal we find that on 5 February, 1529-30, James and Ade Colquhoun, sons of Mr. Ade Colquhoun, Parson of Stobo, had been formally legitimated. The Lords of Council accordingly assoilzied the defendants, and the unfortunate Peter lost his case. His claim, however, gives so full a description of his uncle's possessions that we can form a tolerably clear picture of what must have been a remarkable house.

Let us begin with the parson's own chamber. Here there was a bed of richly carved wood decorated with gold, in which Master Adam slept soft o' nights on a feather mattress containing 140 lb. of down—nearly double the quantity that is put into the best modern feather bed. His head, dressed with "nycht hair-gear" and covered with a "nycht courche," rested on luxurious down pillows "warit," or covered, with holland cloth. The sheets were of the same fine material, and for warmth in the raw Glasgow nights there were first a pair of "pladdis," and over these a pair of blankets of fine fustian. Draughts were kept off by a pair of damask curtains "of divers hewis, fassit with silk and knoppit (or tasselled) with gold." By day a pair of head-sheets was laid across the pillows, a covering of rich velvet lined with fustian was stretched over the bed, while above this was spread a blue mantle.

When morning came, and the priest, awaking in his carved and gilded bed, cast his eyes around him, he had reason to be satisfied with the beauty and luxury of his surroundings, all the more so when we remember how scantily the bedrooms of the time were usually furnished. Round the walls hung panels of arras work—some perhaps of the charming "verdure" of medieval times, designed with foliage and flowers, and varied, as was customary, with little animals such as squirrels and monkeys, or rabbits disappearing into their burrows; and others with "portraiture of huntsman, hawk and hound," or scenes from some scriptural story or secular romance. We read of there being twelve of these panels in the chamber, but probably some of these had been removed from the hall. Against this tapestried background of harmonious, low-toned colour—low toned not from age but from the subdued illumination—appeared a large brazen chandillar, hung from the ceiling, with its tall white candles. In front of the fireplace stood a "langsadill bed of carvit werk"—an oak settle on which the priest may have sat musing by the fire the night before. In a corner of the room was a press, also of carved oak, with a curtain of damask hanging before it to protect the costly raiment that lay within. A carved chest stood at the foot of the bed. It was the practice to keep valuables in the bedroom, where the owner could keep watch over them, and they were stored in chests and boxes of various kinds for convenience of removal in case of fire or other alarm. Master Adam Colquhoun, having a large quantity of valuables, required a good many receptacles for their security. Besides the carved chest there was a "shrine," which was simply another form of chest, having none of the sacred associations we attach to the word; a "balhuise," the Scottish form of the French "bahut," meaning a box, or possibly in those days a hutch; a coffer, a "gardyviat" or strong box, and a "maul of ledder lokkit," or in other words a locked leather trunk.

The "water-pot" is of silver. Standing perhaps on one of the larger chests, either by the bedside or under a window, there was a sponge, a rubber and a locked case of combs. The rubber was apparently a brush, as we read of hogs' bristles being used in the sixteenth century "for to make rubbers and brushes." These toilet accessories complete the furnishing of the bedroom, though we have still to examine the contents of the chests and of the clothes-press. But here the inventory supplies one of those delightful, because so unexpected, touches which suddenly give life to the pictures that come down to us of the long-forgotten past. Here, in his bed-chamber, it seems, the parson, with his taste for gay and bright-coloured things and for amusing companionship, keeps a parrot, which we may imagine perched on the back of the settle, cocking a speculative and judicious eye over the yawnings and stretchings of his newly awakened master. Even the clerk who drafted the inventory seems to have felt the abruptness of this apparition on his blameless page, and he discreetly and decorously softens it by introducing it as "a bird, viz, a parrok."

Let us look now at some of the precious things contained in the coffers and chests. There is a "pair of beidis"—that is, a set of beads, or a rosary—"with v. gaudeis, ilk gaud contenand ane double portingale ducat," the whole being valued at sixty-three pounds. A cross of gold, weighing 4 oz., is valued at thirty-two pounds. These values are in Scots money, which at that time was worth about a fourth part of English money; but if the cross was pure gold, as it no doubt was, it would represent a present-day value of sixteen guineas for the metal alone, apart from workmanship and other elements which might add to its value. There is also a precious relic, a tablet of gold hung with a small chain of 4 oz. in weight, with "ane pece of the haly croce intill it"; and this is said to be worth "tua hundretht pund." Most costly of all is a chain of four hundred Crowns of the Sun, valued at five hundred pounds; but this perhaps is to be regarded as merely a method of hoarding money. Among smaller objects of value are a signet of gold; a gold ring with a fine "safer" (sapphire) stone, worth one hundred pounds; a double Portugal ducat, worth twelve pounds; and a "woup" or circlet of gold serving as an armlet, of 1lb. weight, and representing a value of ninety-six pounds. In one of the boxes there is also carefully stowed away a "pair of punzeonis of claitht of gold, price x Ii."

Scots poetry of the time is full of embittered allusions to the faults and vices of the clergy. In the Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis their rapacity and their oppression of the poor is mercilessly exposed. Another satirical poem, after dealing with their immorality, their ostentatious luxury and their neglect of their charges, goes on to say

So mony preistis cled up in secular weid
With biasing breistis casting their claithis on breid,
It is no need to tell of quhome I mein,
So few to tell the dargey and the beid
Within this land was nevir hard nor sene.

—the "dargey" being the "Dirige," the Office of the Dead, at matins. However regular the Parson of Stobo may have been at his clerical duties, it must be confessed that he did not deny himself the pleasure of flaunting in "secular weid," and displaying what may fairly be called a "blasing breist " to all whom he encountered in the streets of Glasgow. But before passing judgment on his costume it is fair to remember that there was in those days no recognised clerical dress by which the wearers could be distinguished at a glance from laymen. A thirteenth-century statute ordains that the
J
clergy shall not wear " red or striped clothes, nor clothes conspicuous for too great shortness "a law which some have interpreted as being directed against the clerical use of tartan and the kilt! Another statute, enacted only a few years after Colquhoun's death, forbade the use of "top-boots, double-breasted and oddly-cut coats, or coats of forbidden colours, as yellow, green and such kinds of parti-colour," and prescribed the wearing of cassocks for town use. From these and similar decrees we learn that while the Church enjoined a becoming gravity of costume on the clergy, both in regard to colour and material, there was, in fact, a constant tendency to disregard such counsels and to indulge personal vanity and caprice.

The Parson of Stobo's ordinary costume seems to have consisted of a doublet of crammesy velvet lined with scarlet, with a waistcoat or wilecoat, also of scarlet, worn over a shirt of white holland cloth. His hose are of Paris black and they are bound with gartans of silk with gold tassels at the side. A silken belt, also with gold tassels, encircles his waist, while at his hip hangs a bag of crammesy velvet with massive gold mountings. Wearing a pair of velvet shoes he crosses to the carved press in the corner of his chamber and draws aside the curtain, taking out a rich gown of damask lined with marten sable. This he throws round his shoulders and fastens in front with a button of wrought gold, matching a similar button on the breast of his doublet. To complete his toilet he puts on a "litel bonet of welvot sewit with gold," tucks a pair of cloth gloves "pirnit" or interwoven with gold into his belt; and then, fastening on his "quhinger," which is ourgilt with gold, and slipping his silver toothpick into the bag at his waist, he is ready for the day's duties and adventures.

What there is of ecclesiastical costume, or vestments, is kept not in the bedchamber but partly in some small room or press near the kitchen on the ground-floor; so that in passing out to the Cathedral he could conveniently lay his hands upon whatever might be required. There was "ane round preistis bonet"—the biretta which was prescribed as conforming with "the ancient custom of the clergy," and which they had to be enjoined to remove in church, "especially in time of divine service." Three surplaits, or surplices, are mentioned: one of crape, one of lawn and one of holland. Also a "hude of crammase satyn with welvot, drawin with ane string of gold, price xx li" an "almos," or almuce (L. almucia), valued at xl li. and another cape "firrit with spoitit arming" (ermine) valued at x li.

It is difficult to arrive at a fair estimate of the costliness of the sumptuous apparel that has been described. No mere conversion of Scots money into sterling is of much use as a basis for a comparison with present-day expenditure, for the modern use of machinery in manufactures, and modern facilities of intercourse with foreign countries and many other causes, have accustomed us to a scale of relative values that is very unlike that of mediaeval times. We know from Halyburton's Ledger, for example, that velvet costs ten or twelve times as much as Arras tapestry of the quality usually imported into Scotland. It seems surprising, too, to us that a mantle or gown whose materials cost perhaps from sixty to a hundred pounds, should not have exceeded five shillings for the making. Such facts, while easily enough explained, illustrate the difficulty of comparing mediaeval and modern expenditure. However, it is enough to note the Parson of Stobo's 'preference for velvet, the most costly of all the ordinary materials in use, and especially for crimson velvet, which was more expensive than other colours; and how his gown is lined with marten sable, the most expensive of furs; and how almost everything he wears is ornamented with gold, so that even the hag that hangs at his waist has "irnes," or mountings, that would melt down into thirty-three of our present-day sovereigns. However picturesque, to our modern eyes, may be the splendidly arrayed figure of the Parson of Stobo, his costume shows little sympathy with the ideal of an ascetic frugality, nor can it be said to exemplify that sobriety of colour and material which was prescribed by the authority of the Church.

Leaving the bedchamber we enter a small but extremely interesting room, described as "the oratour within his hous." Its principal feature is, of course, the altar, placed against the eastern wall and hung with a frontal of black velvet with fringes of gold. It has two coverings of fine holland cloth. On the top of the altar rests the "altar stane" or super-altar, the small consecrated slab which was laid on the middle of an altar not itself consecrated. Persons of importance were sometimes granted the privilege of having one of these consecrated altar stones to carry with them while travelling, so that they could have a mass said by their chaplains even if there were no fixed consecrated altar of which use could be made. On the altar stood the sacred vessels "ane chalice and patene of silver ourgilt with gold," and, on a silver plate, two silver "crowattis," or cruets, containing respectively the wine and the water for the Eucharist. The plate served the purpose of catching any drip from the druets. There was also—what was very unusual except in richly furnished churches—a silver spoon, used to measure out the small quantity of water mixed with the wine in preparing the chalice ; and employed also for removing flies or the like from the chalice. A silver sacring bell, which was rung at the consecration, also stood on the altar. And, finally, there was a cushion made of cloth of silver, on which was laid a "mess buke," or missal, of parchment, its pages penned by hand in black and red Gothic lettering and richly illuminated in colours and gold.

At each end of the altar a rod projected from the wall and supported a damask curtain which hung close to, and in a plane parallel to, the end of the altar.

In the oratory too were kept the vestments a chasuble which, like the altar frontal, was of black velvet ; a stole and a "fannale" (fannon) or maniple, both made of velvet, the maniple being worn on the priest's left wrist; an "amyt," or amice, which was a linen hood lowered so as to encircle the neck; and a belt, probably made to match the vestments and taking the place of the more usual girdle of white cord.

The only piece of furniture in the oratory that remains to be mentioned was a carved desk or prie-dieu. On its top lay a large velvet cushion on which rested the priest's "orasoun buke, coverit with grene velvet." This was no doubt an illuminated Book of Hours, containing the abridged choir services in honour of the Virgin, consisting of psalms, lessons from scripture and anthems. The desk was probably made with a side opening to a sort of aumrie with a shelf. Here, in a double row, were arranged the parson's "librell bukis," as they are called to distinguish them from the purely devotional books which have already been mentioned. They are secular books designed to cultivate the mind, providing what we still call a "liberal education." Among these volumes are " tua cours of the law, with utheris doctouris thair-upone," and evidence still survives that the Parson of Stobo had taken advantage of his opportunities and was looked upon as a man well versed in the law. There are also works on "theologie'and vther science. In the prologue to Sir David Lindsay's contemporary poem, The Tragedie of the Cardinal, he tells us how

Not lang ago, eftir the hour of prime,
Secreitlie sitting in my oratorie,
I tuke ane buke till occupy the time,
Quhair I fand monie tragedie and stone
Quhilk Johne Boccas had put in memory,

and we may infer that it was usual to keep books in the oratory and to make use of it as a quiet study for secular as well as religious reading.

Passing to the Hall, we find a dignified apartment whose walls are hung with some of the panels of tapestry that were mentioned as being found in the bed-chamber. The wide fireplace, under its carved stone lintel, is fitted with a "chimnay" or grate, of iron. The furnishing is in accordance with the usual mediaval scheme, yet it illustrates too the advance towards a higher standard both of comfort and of conscious artistic interest. The meit-burde, with its trestles and forms, stands at one end of the room and is spread with the usual "coveringis and claithis thereof." Against the wall on one side stands a "cop burde of eistland burde carvit werk, quhair the silver weschel stude." The cupboard, as a piece of domestic furniture, was well known in England in the fourteenth century, but this is perhaps the first mention of its use in a private house in Scotland. It was fitted with shelves and arranged so that the contents were displayed when the doors were thrown open. In Scotland a counter or side table was all that was wanted in most private houses, as there was no profusion of silver vessels requiring special arrangements for their display. While the Parson of Stobo's silver was of such quantity and value as to call for a cupboard, it is interesting to find that his hall also contains a double counter of Flemish origin. It was no doubt used as a buffet or service table, and this is confirmed by the fact that the luxurious owner had provided "ii coveringis, i to the counter i other to the burde of the hall, maid of cusching werk." These were no doubt of Flemish quilted work, and they are an unusual luxury, costing about fourteen pounds for the two. Of the pieces of furniture mentioned the counter was evidently the most important, as it is valued at twenty pounds, whereas the cupboard only reaches half that sum, and the hall table, along with its forms and trestles, is put at less than three pounds. The other furniture consisted of a "meit almery for conserving of napry, silit abone," or having a panelled top; a settle, a chair and a "buffat stule," all described as of carved work. Upholstered seats were of course as yet unknown, but the hall was provided with "i dosane of fyne grete cuschingis of Flanderis werk" for use on the settle and other seats, as well as for footstools. They were stuffed with feathers and were probably covered with verdure tapestry.

But perhaps the most interesting feature of the furnishing of the hall is the silver plate which stood on the cupboard. Such a display was of course characteristic of medioval times, though it is rather exceptional in early Scottish records. There was little accumulated wealth in Scotland; her exports did not pay for her imports, and there was also a constant drain of money due to other causes.

I dar weill say, within this fiftie yeir
Rome has ressavit furth of this regioun
For bullis and benefice quhilk they buy full deir
Quhilk micht full weill have payit ane kingis ransoum.
Preistis suld na moir our substance sa consoum
Sending yeirly sa greit riches to Rome.

Still, as Scotland gradually gained in wealth, and as more settled conditions gave the possessors of valuables some guarantee of security, it became usual for the well-to-do in Scotland, as elsewhere, to "garnish their cupboards with plate"; so that a Scottish poet, calling on his countrymen to celebrate the destruction of the Spanish Armada, said:

Expose your gold and shyning silver bright
On covered cop-buirdes set in opin sight;
Ouer-gilted coups, with carved covers clear,
Fine precious stanes, quhair they may best appear
Lavers in ranks, and silver baissings shine
Saltfats outshorne, and glasses crystalline.

In Master Adam Colquhoun's day such displays were less common, and his cupboard must have been considered an imposing one. It consisted of about forty separate vessels and dishes, weighing in all something like 65 lbs. troy weight of silver. There were five flagons of graduated sizes, the largest containing half a gallon; three stoups, the largest containing a quart; and four silver "pieces" with their covers, the largest containing a pint. The most massive of these vessels weighed as much as 8 lb. each. There was also a set of silver trenchers, a silver basin and laver, a silver cup and a goblet, each with its cover; a silver maser and its cover both doubly overgilt; a set of two dozen silver spoons, weighing 2oz. each; a silver salt-fatt with cover of silver doubly over-gilt; a silver "gerdyn," here apparently meaning a retort-shaped bottle; a chargeour, a plate and a "compterfute," all of silver, and two silver dishes, one described as a "braid" dish and the other as a "luggit" dish, meaning a dish with projecting handles at opposite sides. Besides all these there is a pair of silver chandillars and, last but not least interesting, "ane cais of carving knyfis, Flanderis making, doublie ourgilt." The set contains twelve small knives, three "mekle" knives and a fork. The use of such a set of table knives marks a considerable advance on the earlier practice, according to which each man used the knife he carried about with him. The mention of a fork has a special interest. Forks were not in general use in England before the middle of the seventeenth century, though they were sometimes used for fruit. Thus Piers Gaveston had three silver forks for eating pears, and an English will of 1463 bequeathes "my silver forke for grene gyngour." Though the fork in the manse of Stobo is cased along with knives intended for meat, the fact that there is but one, along with what we know of mediaval usage, suggests that it was not used for meat with the knives, but kept for fruit and sweetmeats.

A cupboard so well garnished with silver plate is apt to suggest to us a rather purse-proud love of display. Yet this is hardly fair, as it leaves out of account the conditions and habits of the time. Wherever there was a surplus of income over necessary expenditure there was, in varying degree, according to the amount of that surplus and to the taste and temperament of the individual, a tendency to the accumulation of plate and other valuables. It must be remembered that banking did not as yet exist in Scotland; though we find in Halyburton's Ledger that even in the fifteenth century sums were sent from Scotland to the great banking houses of Antwerp. We read too of considerable sums being forwarded to Halyburton to trade with "for the behuf and profyt" of some of his correspondents in Scotland. But on the whole there was little opening for the investment of accumulated savings. To lend money at interest was still apt to expose the lender to the odium associated with the practice of usury, as well as to legal penalties. The alternatives were thus to hoard money or to expend it in plate or rich furnishings which bore agreeable and unmistakable witness to the prosperity of the owner. In Harrison's contemporary account of Elizabethan England we are told that towards the end of a lease a successful farmer might have six or seven years' rent lying by him, "besides a fair garnish of pewter on his cupboard, with so much more in odd vessel going about the house, three or four feather beds, so many coverlids and carpets of tapestry, a silver salt, a bowl for wine, if not a whole- nest, and a dozen of spoons to furnish up the suit." Such agricultural prosperity was an outcome of the expansion of English trade under Elizabeth, and so rapid had been the advance towards luxury that there were men then living who remembered when they had "laid on straw pallets or rough mats covered only with a sheet, under coverlets made of dagswain, and a good round log under their heads instead of a bolster or a pillow." In Scotland there was no such sudden increase of prosperity. Wealth was in fewer hands, and chiefly, as we have seen, in the hands of the Church. Even among the nobles there was comparatively little silver to display, most of the vessels in domestic use being of pewter.

The Kitchen need not detain us long. There are but two pieces of furniture, one a "weschell almerie," which was probably a plainly made kitchen dish-press, and the other a "dressingburd "—in other words a table on which meat and other articles of food were dressed. No form or stool or other kind of seat is provided, nor is there any other concession to comfort. Everything gives way to the claims of cookery. There are cauldrons, kettles, "mekle" pots and "litel" pots, frying pans, goose pans, roasting irons, fish "skumrners," "mekle speits" and "litel speits," stoups, pitchers and "piggis," besides the special paraphernalia of the bake-house and brew-house. A "capon-cave" shows that poultry were kept, and the supply of provisions is on a scale that suggests that the household was given to what a contemporary calls "large tabling and belly cheer." There are, for example, eight marts, or salted carcases, of beef; a pipe of salmon, containing eight dozen; a pipe of Loch Fyne herring ; an ark containing forty bolls of meal; six stone of butter, and a "kebboc" of cheese weighing 22 lb. Such supplies must have relieved Master Adam of any acute anxiety as to his daily bread, particularly as beneficed clergymen were enjoined to fare frugally and temperately at table, and to avoid delicacy and superfluity in meat and drinks. His fuel was also secure, for there is a mow (or heap) of coals containing as much as eighty loads; and his barn is well stored with wheat, oats, "beir," peas and hay.

Even in the stable there is much that is characteristic and suggestive. His riding saddle has a "curpale "or crupper of velvet; and there is a green "horse-house," the trappings of cloth with which the horse was draped in mediaeval times. In the stable he keeps his riding kit, consisting of a damask riding gown lined with black, a velvet hood lined with damask, and a black cloak faced with velvet. Here too we find his armour, a habergeon of mail, a pair of brigandines for back and -front, a "pesane" or gorget of mail, splints for legs and arms, gloves of plate and also of mail, helmets and other headgear, and a two-handed sword. The clergy, it may be mentioned, were forbidden to bear arms, yet a fight between two chaplains armed with "hyngers" is recorded in the Ripon Chapter Acts (Surtees Society) in the year r 503, and there are other evidences that the prohibition was not literally observed. There is also a single-handed sword of a more elegant and decorative character. It is doubly overgilt with gold, has a scabbard of velvet, "crampet," or provided with guards, of silver; and it is slung from a belt of figured velvet. To carry on more peaceful occasions there is a "ganging staf of bressale, tippit with silver at baith ends and in the middis," bressale being brazil-wood, from which the country of Brazil derived its name. We find too that the Parson was a devotee of sport. He has a rather dandified outfit for archery—a hand-bow, arrow-bag and "caver" (quiver) with arrows, "ane bras of ovir bene tippit with silver," meaning, I suppose, an ivory arm-guard with silver mountings; and a shooting glove "sewit with silk and knoppit with gold." Another form of sport seems to have interested him. Among the popular grievances referred to in the Generall Satyre is the prevalence of coursing, to the destruction of the crops:

Sic coursing, evin and morn,
Quhilk slayis the corn, and fruct that growis grene.

and we find that the Parson of Stobo has a set of "rais cuppillis of silver" with silk collars "spenlit" (spindled?) with silver, which were no doubt used in coursing for releasing the dogs. He has also a silken dog-leash and a dog-collar studded with silver. Along with his taste for sport goes a love of animals, and we find that, besides the parrot indoors, he keeps outside a tame hind and a crane.

One other remarkable possession is to be found in the stable—a "streking knok with bellis efferand thairto." Clocks were seldom found in Scotland at this period unless in churches and other public buildings. How Master Adam came to own a chiming clock is hard to say, and why it should be kept in the stable, unless the bells "efferand thairto" were too loud to be tolerated in the house, and had to be so far removed that distance might soften their stridency and render them tuneful and mellow enough to please the epicurean fancy of the fastidious priest.

It is well nigh four hundred years since, perhaps with these very bells sounding in his ears, Master Adam :Colquhoun drew his last breath, and the stiffening body was left lying on the gilded bed, in the shadow of the damask curtains with their fringes of silk and tassels of gold. It is not for us to allot to him the fate either of Dives or of Lazarus. He probably left behind an amiable memory. His collection of "librell bukis" on the law, theology and "uther science" shows that he was not one of those whose ignorance and illiteracy disgraced the Church. If his relations with Jane Boyd cannot be justified, they were at any rate only too characteristic of the time; he seems at least to have been constant to her, and if the laws of the Church had permitted, he would doubtless have been an exemplary husband. How far the manse of Stobo may be taken as representative of the homes of the Pre-Reformation clergy is a question which we have not enough evidence to decide; but it is at least remarkable that it presents us with a far more opulent and luxurious picture than any contemporary nobleman's house of which a record has been preserved. We are glad to remember those of the clergy whose devotion and spirituality survived the corrupting and disintegrating tendencies of the time, and were proof against the relaxed standards of the age. But the ostentatious wealth and worldliness of the clergy are so constant a theme, not only in the works of the satirists and in the pages of impartial history, but also, as evils to be combated, in the Statutes of the Church itself, that they must be accepted as outstanding features of contemporary life. Can we wonder, then, if the people, groaning under the exactions of the clergy and confronted with their material standards and their flagrant immoralities, and already, behind locked doors, reading in their own homely tongue the unworldly teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, began to form opinions of their own on the fitness of the Church as a vehicle and exponent of the teaching of Christ?


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